Half the fun of having a track car is in building and developing it. Sure, it gives you all the chances in the world to screw up. You can spend a lot of money buying parts that don't work as well as you thought or you make a mistake and blow up something in a very expensive way. I'm not ashamed to admit that I've made my fair share of expensive mistakes in my pursuit for greater speed.
So when a fellow car enthusiast asked me what mods I had on my car, it made me wonder: If I was to build a competitive Prelude for SCCA Improved Touring racing, what would that build sheet look like? And what would it cost?
Here's my answer, based on 8 years of blood, sweat, tears, and development work:
|Car||92-96 Honda Prelude Si (non-4WS) 5 speed manual in good condition||$ 2,500.00|
|Induction||AEM Cold Air Intake||$ 300.00|
|Exhaust||Hytech H23 race header||$ 1,300.00|
|Exhaust||Custom mandrel bent 2.5" exhaust with expansion chamber||$ 500.00|
|Exhaust||Burns Stainless 17" muffler||$ 325.00|
|Oiling||Oil catch can + plumbing||$ 60.00|
|Powertrain||Innovative 95A polyurethane engine mounts||$ 310.00|
|Transmission||Wavetrac Limited Slip Differential||$ 600.00|
|Electronics||Hondata S300||$ 500.00|
|Suspension||Tein Street Advance, revalved for 14k front, 18k rear springs and track-only damping||$ 1,090.00|
|Suspension||Swift 70mm ID Metric coilover springs - 14k front, 18k rear||$ 360.00|
|Suspension||Tein 70mm ID helper springs for front and rear||$ 120.00|
|Suspension||Energy Suspension and Chassis Master Bushing Kit||$ 200.00|
|Suspension||Kingpin Machine Front Lower Control Arm Bearing Conversion||$ 540.00|
|Suspension||Kingpin Machine Solid Radius Rod Bearing||$ 270.00|
|Suspension||Moog Camber adjustable control arm pivots - Front and Rear||$ 232.00|
|Suspension||ST Suspension 1" Rear antisway bar||$ 170.00|
|Brakes||Raybestos ST43 Racing Pads - Front||$ 225.00|
|Brakes||Cheapest Full metallic heavy duty brake pads available - Rear||$ 20.00|
|Brakes||Technafit Stainless Steel Brake lines||$ 110.00|
|Brakes||M10x1 Metric Brake Tees for ABS Delete (need 2 for front and rear)||$ 30.00|
|Brakes||Wilwood brake proportioning valve with M10x1 inverted flare adapters for rear brakes||$ 60.00|
|Brakes||Centric blank rotors front and rear||$ 100.00|
|Brakes||Speed bleeder brake bleeder screws||$ 24.00|
|Wheels||ARP Extended Wheel studs||$ 100.00|
|Wheels||Team Dynamics Pro Race 1.2 Wheels, 15x8", redrilled for 4x114.3||$ 800.00|
|Wheels||Gorilla Auto 17mm open ended lug nuts||$ 60.00|
|Tyres||Hoosier R7 in 225/45R15||$ 1,052.00|
|Safety||Schroth Right side net||$ 145.00|
|Safety||Gforce Mesh Window net||$ 50.00|
|Safety||SCCA Legal 6 / 8 point Roll Cage||$ 2,500.00|
|Safety||Bride Zeta III FIA Racing Seat||$ 900.00|
|Safety||G-Force 6-Point Latch & Link Harness with eyelets for mounting||$ 100.00|
|Safety||Bride Seat Brackets||$ 125.00|
|Safety||Seat Bracket adapter||$ 50.00|
|Safety||Battery disconnect switch||$ 40.00|
|Safety||Amerex 2.5 Pound AFFF fire extinguisher||$ 60.00|
|Interior||Steel sunroof delete panel, riveted and sealed||$ 40.00|
|Interior||Italvolanti Sport Steering Wheel||$ 100.00|
|Interior||Momo steering wheel adapter||$ 85.00|
|Interior||Short shifter adapter||$ 20.00|
|Interior||Autometer mechanical oil pressure gauge + braided oil line||$ 140.00|
|Chassis||Rear shock tower bar||$ 20.00|
Professional Help Required
In addition to installing the parts shown above, there are some labor-intensive items that are necessary to make the car competitive. You'll want to seek out an experienced race shop to help you with these items:
- Fabrication and welding of the roll cage
- Engine head inspection and cleaning
- Installation of a Limited Slip Differential
- ECU installation and dyno tune
- Corner weighting
- Race Alignment
Labor costs vary wildly depending on where you are. It would be a good idea to get on the good graces of someone who has the necessary time, skills, and equipment for some of these things. If you have skills that you can offer them (even if they aren't motorsport related), put them on the table too. It never hurts and you may just get that little extra something for your hard-earned money.
The biggest lesson to be learned from this is that building a race car is not a fiscally responsible thing to do. In addition to all of the dollar amounts you see above, I spent hundreds of thousands of hours went into researching, testing, and setting up the car as it was being built.
The upside is that by building a car yourself, you can choose when to spend your time and money. By building the StudioVRM Prelude over the course of 8 years, I was able to split up the cost and time in a way that I could easily afford it. Plus I often chose top shelf parts to eek out as much performance as possible. You could probably get 90% of the performance of this car for a lot less money if you bought used parts or took some slightly cheaper alternatives.
Not only did I end up with a competitive car, I gained the knowledge, experience, and skills from some of the best in the business. That's something that I can now carry forward to the small fleet of other racecars I work on to make them faster for less money. And more importantly, I now have a decade worth of fond memories and an address book full of close friends with whom I'll share a lifetime of good times.
Would I do it all again? Hell yes. You should too. It's worth every penny.
See you at the track.